IDUG & Other Mainframe Conferences; 10 tips on how to get the most out of them…
IDUG EMEA in Berlin from November 3 thru 9 is just around the corner. We all know that attending a conference is hard work, if you do it well. And because Mainframe people are serious people, we do these things VERY well. But there is always something to improve so I thought I would share my 10 hints and tips with you:
- Prepare. Agendas are almost always available online weeks before the conference, read through the abstracts, try to remember if you have seen / heard presenter before and pick the sessions that make sense for YOU.
- Mix. Do not just pick technical sessions. Some of the more generic sessions often help you see things in a broader perspective. This will help you in discussions with other IT folks in your company.
- Work. Reserve 1 hour a day to do mails, solve work-related problems etc. Do not do this during the breaks, breaks are important because they give you the opportunity to network (see Network)..
- Network. Mainframers are not the most social people. But when we are around our peers, we do a lot better. Use as much time as possible to talk to people. If you are looking for people with specific products/versions/challenges, go visit one of the vendors and ask them. They know most of the companies attending IDUG very well.
- Talk to the vendors. Not only do they make these conferences possible by sponsoring them, they can answer your questions and help you with problems or challenges. Last year, we were able to solve a complex problem a client had been struggling with for weeks. At the CA Technologies booth together with the delegate…
- Come early and rested. It is always a good idea to arrive the day before the conference. This way you can attend the CA DB2 User Day (register here) and you can start the first day of the conference in a relaxed way.
- Eat well. This one may sound funny, but I mean it very serious; try and stay away from too much fat and sugar during the day. Good food (whole meat bread, fruit and the odd green leaf) actually helps you to get through the day better. Hotels are air-conditioned so drink more water or tea/coffee than you normally would.
- Talk to strangers (see Networking). My English is not perfect. The English of 99.8% of the attendees is not perfect. Do NOT let this stand in the way of talking to people from other countries. They speak “mainframe” and that is enough.
- Take 2 things home:
- Try to implement at least 1 good technical solution/tip you found during the conference and let people know that you learned about this DURING the conference. This will help you to “sell” your next conference to your manager.
- Make enough notes so you can organize a lunch/breakfast/morning/afternoon session for your colleagues once you are back in the office. This will again help you with your next request to attend a conference.
- Have fun. Conferences are about work from 8 till 5. After that, enjoy yourself, socialize, network, and you will find that this is AS valuable as the time you spend at the sessions during the day. You will leave with 2-3 business cards (do not forget them) of people that can help you. You never know when you might need them…
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